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Long-Range Transportation Planning in Utah: Summary of Research Results from Interviews and Focus Groups. Final Report from Phase II Natural Resource and Environmental Policy Program ~ USU. Acknowledgements. Utah Department of Transportation Individuals who participated in this study

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slide1

Long-Range TransportationPlanning in Utah: Summary of Research Results from Interviews and Focus Groups

Final Report from Phase II

Natural Resource and Environmental Policy Program ~ USU

acknowledgements
Acknowledgements
  • Utah Department of Transportation
  • Individuals who participated in this study
  • Natural Resource and Environmental Policy Program
  • Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
  • Department of Environment and Society

College of Natural Resources

Utah State University

research methods
Research Methods
  • Face-to-Face Interviews
  • 17 Internal Participants(Utah Transportation Commissioners, UDOT Administrators, UDOT Public Involvement Coordinators)
  • 14 External Participants(State and Federal Government Representatives, MPOs, UTA, Land Developer)
  • Focus Groups
  • 4 Internal Focus Groups(Regional Maintenance Workers)
  • 5 External Focus Groups(Persons with Disabilities, Bicyclists, Utah DEQ, Environmental Groups, Low Income Representatives)
research methods1
Research Methods
  • Question Sets
  • Protocols:
    • Internal / External
    • Interviews / Focus Groups
  • Main Content Areas:
    • UDOT’s Image and Relationships with Other Groups
    • Transportation Planning
    • Long-Range Transportation Plan
    • UDOT as an Organization
research methods2
Research Methods
  • Data Analysis Techniques
    • Transcriptions
    • Entire team read raw transcripts
    • Development of thematic coding scheme
    • Sample coding of interviews
    • Coding refinement
    • Ensuring inter-rater reliability (all codes checked)
    • Production of master list of pages of text on which all codes are located (reference guide)
    • Interpretation, synthesis and write-up
theme 1 challenges involved in comprehensive and innovative transportation planning
Theme 1Challenges Involved in Comprehensive and Innovative Transportation Planning
  • Transportation Planning Context
    • Rapid population growth makes it hard to “stay ahead of the curve”
    • Suburban sprawl creates developments often distant from existing infrastructure
    • Diversifying transportation demands
    • Importance of the transportation system for the state’s economy and its future strategies
    • Compliance with environmental laws
    • Compliance with social justice, anti-discrimination, and disability laws
theme 1 challenges involved in comprehensive and innovative transportation planning1
Theme 1Challenges Involved in Comprehensive and Innovative Transportation Planning
  • Difficulties in Transportation Planning
    • Lack of predictability of specific development locations puts transportation planners in reactive mode and forces compromises from strategic perspectives
    • Lack of flexibility due to restrictions on funding, timing, under-funded planning, long-term vs. short-term planning needs
    • Lack of appropriate sequencing to put various parts of the system in place
theme 1 challenges involved in comprehensive and innovative transportation planning2
Theme 1Challenges Involved in Comprehensive and Innovative Transportation Planning
  • Separation of transportation and other planning functions
    • Between various transportation planning entities
    • Between transportation planning and land-use planning
    • Between transportation planning and natural resource planning
  • General recognition of need for and benefit of greater coordination
theme 1 challenges involved in comprehensive and innovative transportation planning3
Theme 1Challenges Involved in Comprehensive and Innovative Transportation Planning
  • Interface Between Politics and Planning
    • Influence of the Governor’s transportation agenda
    • MPOs often have own lobbyists and agendas
    • Local community officials can sidestep the MPO planning process by lobbying independently for projects they did not get through the MPOs
  • Main Points
    • Politics can subvert the transportation planning process.
    • Prioritization of projects can be difficult.
theme 1 challenges involved in comprehensive and innovative transportation planning4
Theme 1Challenges Involved in Comprehensive and Innovative Transportation Planning
  • Need for a Paradigm Shift
    • To create a good intermodal transportation system that provides travel alternatives and meets the needs of a diverse group of users
    • Provide more transportation alternatives for urban areas (in particular)
    • Promote mass transit for the Wasatch Front
    • Need a change in mindsets and behaviors of the public to demand and use alternative transportation
theme 2 coordination and leadership in transportation planning and partnerships
Theme 2 Coordination and Leadership in Transportation Planning and Partnerships
  • Importance and Challenges of Coordinating Transportation Planning
    • Funding and jurisdictional responsibilities differ from agency to agency
    • Need for improved integration between the various forms of transportation
    • Must serve the needs of diverse users and stakeholders
    • Efficient and equitable use of limited resources is seen as very important
theme 2 coordination and leadership in transportation planning and partnerships1
Theme 2 Coordination and Leadership in Transportation Planning and Partnerships
  • How to Coordinate Transportation Planning ~ Structure
    • Create one transportation agency
    • Retain current transportation entities, but create an umbrella organization for coordinating purposes
    • One transportation entity takes the lead, but all entities continue to exist and operate in their defined areas of responsibility
theme 2 coordination and leadership in transportation planning and partnerships2
Theme 2 Coordination and Leadership in Transportation Planning and Partnerships
  • How to Coordinate Transportation Planning ~ Function
    • Improve communication and information sharing
    • Build strong relationships with other entities
    • Improve cooperation and partnership arrangements
    • Engage in more cost sharing agreements

Note: Most people favored these types of functional improvements over a structural reorganization of transportation agencies.

theme 2 coordination and leadership in transportation planning and partnerships3
Theme 2 Coordination and Leadership in Transportation Planning and Partnerships
  • Leadership in Statewide Transportation Planning
    • Internal participants felt UDOT can and should play the role of transportation leader in Utah.

[Reasons: department mandate; moving in the right direction to be able to do it; agency survival.]

    • External participants had more mixed opinions; some people felt another entity (e.g. advisory committee) should play the role of transportation leader in Utah.

[Reasons: image of UDOT as roads department without a broad enough vision; poor customer service; bad move politically]

theme 3 engaging the public in transportation planning
Theme 3 Engaging the Public in Transportation Planning
  • Challenges of Public Involvement
    • Public apathy and time constraints
    • Hard to get people involved in long-range planning
    • Designing effective public involvement forums
    • Perception that public input is ignored
    • Perception that decisions are made prior to public involvement
    • Legacy of mistrust that must be overcome
theme 3 engaging the public in transportation planning1
Theme 3 Engaging the Public in Transportation Planning
  • Effectiveness of Public Involvement
    • UDOT leadership perceived to be more open and collaborative in recent years
    • Addition of Public Involvement Coordinators
    • Use of smaller, more personal public involvement forums
    • Appointment of staff liaisons with other agencies
    • Context Sensitive Solution initiative
    • UDOT personnel attending the meetings of other groups and organizations
theme 3 engaging the public in transportation planning2
Theme 3 Engaging the Public in Transportation Planning
  • Recommendations for public involvement from the interviewees and focus group participants
    • Do it early and frequently; take it seriously
    • Be more proactive in soliciting input
    • Ensure feedback is representative of the public
    • Encourage members of the public to talk to each other
    • Less emphasis on public hearings ~ greater emphasis on small groups and electronic communication
    • Use input received from the public when making decisions or explain why it was not used
theme 4 udot s public image and its relationship with other entities
Theme 4UDOT’s Public Image and Its Relationship With Other Entities
  • Improvement in UDOT’s Public Image
    • Decentralization efforts have improved communication with local entities
    • UDOT is perceived as more open and inclusive
    • The 2002 Winter Olympics and UDOT’s coordination with other agencies was a big success
    • Use of new technology to keep the public informed of current construction is appreciated
    • Context Sensitive Solutions concept is well received by communities
theme 4 udot s public image and its relationship with other entities1
Theme 4UDOT’s Public Image and Its Relationship With Other Entities
  • Continuing Challenges for UDOT’s Public Image
    • Often perceived as a “Roads Department”
    • Thought to be lacking the “big picture” view
    • The organizational culture seen as dominated by the “engineering mentality”
    • Perceived lack of concern for environmental issues
    • Some people say lawsuits are the only effective method for getting UDOT’s attention
theme 4 udot s public image and its relationship with other entities2
Theme 4UDOT’s Public Image and Its Relationship With Other Entities
  • UDOT’s External Relationships
    • Relationships in good standing:

Federal and State agencies, MPOs, UTA, cities and counties (i.e., others in the transportation or planning communities)

    • Relationships in need of improvement:

Special interest groups and stakeholders such as persons with disabilities, bicyclists, low income citizens, and environmental groups (i.e. certain customer groups)

theme 4 udot s public image and its relationship with other entities3
Theme 4UDOT’s Public Image and Its Relationship With Other Entities
  • Recommendations for improving public image and relationships (made by participants)
    • Sincere behavior that increases stakeholders’ trust in UDOT (e.g., follow-through, explanations, frequent contact)
    • Follow both the spirit and letter of laws such as ADA and NEPA and ensure that contractors comply
    • Build roads that do not create barriers for bicyclists and disabled people
    • Engage in open and honest communication
theme 5 assessment of udot as an organization
Theme 5Assessment of UDOT as an Organization
  • Understanding of UDOT’s Mission
    • External participants’ views: to plan, construct, and maintain state highways
    • Internal participants’ views: a comprehensive transportation provider, playing a key role in the statewide transportation system
theme 5 assessment of udot as an organization1
Theme 5Assessment of UDOT as an Organization
  • Participants’ Perceptions of UDOT’s Leadership
    • Executive Leadership: Viewed positively both internally and externally, willing and able to institute change and tackle challenges
    • Transportation Commissioners: Views were mixed, some felt commissioners were responsive to public concerns, others felt there was too much political motivationin their decision-making process
theme 5 assessment of udot as an organization2
Theme 5Assessment of UDOT as an Organization
  • Improvements in UDOT’s Organizational Structure and Function
    • Decentralized, regional decision-making viewed as appropriate and effective (helps build relationships, keeps

UDOT in tune with local needs and the public)

    • Some centralization is deemed necessary, such as for specialized functions
    • Recognition of a need for better integration between UDOT’s internal Divisions
    • Use of technology: traffic information boards good; accounts/billings in need of updated technology
theme 5 assessment of udot as an organization3
Theme 5Assessment of UDOT as an Organization
  • Perceptions of UDOT’s Organizational Culture
    • Road builders; too much emphasis on asphalt
    • Engineering mentality dominates UDOT
    • Need for better integration of the human component into project planning and UDOT’s management
    • Need to improve communication skills of the Department as a whole
theme 5 assessment of udot as an organization4
Theme 5Assessment of UDOT as an Organization
  • Personnel Issues

Internal Participants:

    • Agency stretched thin financially and employees work hard to do as much as they can with limited resources
    • Loss of well-trained employees to private sector and other agencies hurts UDOT
    • Concern with fairness issues in pay, training, advancement, and status

External Participants:

    • Turn-over makes it hard to get consistent, reliable help
    • Lack of environmental expertise
theme 6 long range transportation plan
Theme 6 Long-Range Transportation Plan
  • Process of Developing the Plan
    • Needs good inter-agency coordination
    • Involve the public in the process
    • Allow adequate time for effective review of the draft plan by both internal and external constituents
    • Use MPO and community long-range plans already in place when devising UDOT’s plan
    • Review other State Transportation Plans for good ideas (e.g. Georgia, Minnesota)
    • Solicit ideas from UDOT employees (not just planners)
    • Allow adequate time for the planning process
theme 6 long range transportation plan1
Theme 6 Long-Range Transportation Plan
  • Recommendations for Plan Content ~

Vision of the Plan

    • Promotes paradigm shift toward intermodal transportation system through policies, goals, and investment strategies that will make that happen
    • Serves as a master list of projects for the next 20 years and balances “preservation plan” with “capacity plan”
    • Helps UDOT manage its resources and employees more efficiently
theme 6 long range transportation plan2
Theme 6 Long-Range Transportation Plan
  • Recommendations for Plan Content ~ Framework for Thinking About Transportation Needs
    • Provides “direction” for addressing transportation concerns in Utah: tells people what to focus on; provides criteria and rationale for decision-making; lays out strategies for addressing transportation problems
    • Discussion document that articulates the various choices and trade-offs the public needs to make
    • Incorporate more explicit goals and objectives for how UDOT intends to engage in the on-going task of transportation planning and public involvement
theme 6 long range transportation plan3
Theme 6 Long-Range Transportation Plan
  • Recommendations for Plan Content ~

Specific Issues the Plan Should Address

    • Corridor Preservation
    • Project Prioritization
    • Project Sequencing
    • Air Quality and Water Quality
    • Transportation Funding
    • Other Issues: open space, view sheds, public land access considerations, wildlife mitigation corridors, sensitive species habitats, environmental justice concerns
theme 6 long range transportation plan4
Theme 6 Long-Range Transportation Plan
  • Anticipated Plan Outcomes
    • Serve as a guide to transportation decision making
    • Tool to encourage citizens to think more strategically about the state’s future transportation system and to engage them earlier in transportation planning
    • A “dynamic” plan that is flexible and adaptable
    • Incorporate an internal monitoring and evaluation strategy for the plan
    • Plan would allow for periodic review by external constituents